Hold on tight, you’re in for quite a ride at four theme parks that are all within easy reach of a cruise port.
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
It’s just 45 miles from Port Canaveral and Universal Orlando Resort™ blows everything you think you know about family fun right out of the water with its rip-roaring, mind-blowing, high-octane adventures. Divided into three completely different theme parks, the resort will help you unleash your hidden daredevil, embrace your inner child and make you feel like a movie star of A-list proportions. The fun just keeps on coming.
Hop aboard the Hogwarts Express and make magic at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Studios Florida™, the fully-fledged working film studio where blockbusters come to life. All-out action is promised at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ where rollercoasters spin, flip and dip you every which way. Finally, there is Universal’s Volcano Bay™, the all-new water park that opened in May 2017. With Florida’s liquid sunshine on your back and towering slides beckoning you to throw caution to the wind and embrace the adrenaline rush, wrinkly fingertips after hours in the water are guaranteed.
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT
When Walt Disney opened Walt Disney World Resort™ in 1971, he wanted it to be the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’. And it is. After all, it is difficult to be anything but happy in a place where Cinderella watches the fireworks from her castle in the Magic Kingdom and Mickey Mouse stops by to say ‘Hi!’ over pancakes at breakfast.
A visit to Walt Disney World Resort™ is a rite of passage in any childhood but the Disney magic doesn’t have an age limit. With six parks to choose from, (four theme parks and two water parks), and being only an hour from Port Canaveral, the resort has something to suit everyone. Toy Story Land will encourage tiny tots to reach for the stars with Woody and co when it opens in June 2018, while Epcot will appeal to the space-mad moody teen in your life. There’s even an ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for any hard-to-please Dads who aren’t impressed at missing the footie.
There isn’t a lot that Dubai doesn’t have and now it even has Hollywood. Touted as ‘Hollywood in the desert’, the £2.3bn attraction makes you the star of the show at its three theme parks featuring 27 rides and attractions, including five rollercoasters. Thrill seekers and film buffs can get their kicks in four zones named after the industry big hitters; DreamWorks, Lionsgate, Columbia Pictures and Smurfs Village, with more than ten blockbusters given the theme park treatment including Kung Fu Panda, The Hunger Games and Madagascar.
Adrenaline junkies will laugh in the face of fear on extreme rollercoasters like the Zombieland Blast Off, plummeting vertically back down to earth from hundreds of metres above ground. There’s also entertainment of the less extreme variety at the Kung Fu Panda Academy and a Backlot Tour unveiling the secrets behind the movie magic.
Best of all, MOTIONGATE DUBAI is literally cool; the park opens at 3pm to avoid the hottest hours of the day and all queues for rides are indoors and air-conditioned. It’s a great place to kick off an overnight stay in Dubai with family in tow.
PORTAVENTURA WORLD RESORT
Barcelona has tons to offer families but PortAventura World Resort, just an hour outside the city, is head and shoulders above the rest. Spain’s most popular theme park is a white-knuckle wonderland that really ramps up the family fun if you don’t fancy schlepping around the city itself.
The fast and furious rides fire on all four cylinders at the recently-opened Ferrari World, home to Red Force; the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in Europe reaching speeds over 110mph. It’s all over in 18 petrifying seconds, if you can resist another go. Elsewhere at the resort, the Caribe Aquatic Park is paradise for water babies with its family-friendly combination of slides, lazy rivers and white sand beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean. It’s the perfect place to cool down at the height of a Med summer.
PortAventura World Resort is huge, proving that you don’t have to head over the pond to Florida for your thrills. Its five themed areas, from a lush Polynesian jungle to the Wild West and even the Sesame Street-themed Sésamo Aventura, can compete with the best theme parks in the world.